We’ve all heard of people coming back from near-death experiences telling stories of what they experienced while they were “gone”. But this one is particularly interesting because it happened to a neurosurgeon while he was under intense medical observation during a seven-day coma. The doctor was a nominal Christian at the time but didn’t seem believe in God because such faith didn’t jibe with science.
During his near-death experience, which happened in 2008, the doctors around him could clearly see that his brain’s cortex—the part that controls thought and emotion – was completely shut down. Hence, it wasn’t possible for him to experience the vivid consciousness that occurred. Here’s how he explains it:
All the chief arguments against near-death experiences suggest that these experiences are the results of minimal, transient, or partial malfunctioning of the cortex. My near-death experience, however, took place not while my cortex was malfunctioning, but while it was simply off. This is clear from the severity and duration of my meningitis, and from the global cortical involvement documented by CT scans and neurological examinations. According to current medical understanding of the brain and mind, there is absolutely no way that I could have experienced even a dim and limited consciousness during my time in the coma, much less the hyper-vivid and completely coherent odyssey I underwent. (Source)
Whether his story is authentic or not, the description of what he saw is still a fascinating read, although he seems to have difficulty finding adequate comparisons to things we can relate to. An interesting feature of his vision is the young woman that accompanied him. Our Lady???
All the saints and scripture writers that have seen beyond this world have had trouble putting their visions into words. Their accounts include curious and sometimes bizarre imagery because it’s just way beyond anything imaginable.
The man is now on a mission:
I’ve spent decades as a neurosurgeon at some of the most prestigious medical institutions in our country. I know that many of my peers hold—as I myself did—to the theory that the brain, and in particular the cortex, generates consciousness and that we live in a universe devoid of any kind of emotion, much less the unconditional love that I now know God and the universe have toward us. But that belief, that theory, now lies broken at our feet. What happened to me destroyed it, and I intend to spend the rest of my life investigating the true nature of consciousness and making the fact that we are more, much more, than our physical brains as clear as I can, both to my fellow scientists and to people at large.
I don’t expect this to be an easy task, for the reasons I described above. When the castle of an old scientific theory begins to show fault lines, no one wants to pay attention at first. The old castle simply took too much work to build in the first place, and if it falls, an entirely new one will have to be constructed in its place. (Source)
It seems like he also started going back to church. I love this quote:
One of the few places I didn’t have trouble getting my story across was a place I’d seen fairly little of before my experience: church. The first time I entered a church after my coma, I saw everything with fresh eyes. The colors of the stained-glass windows recalled the luminous beauty of the landscapes I’d seen in the world above. The deep bass notes of the organ reminded me of how thoughts and emotions in that world are like waves that move through you. And, most important, a painting of Jesus breaking bread with his disciples evoked the message that lay at the very heart of my journey: that we are loved and accepted unconditionally by a God even more grand and unfathomably glorious than the one I’d learned of as a child in Sunday school. (Source)
While Socon or Bust takes no position on the authenticity of his vision, notice the similarities between his vision and some features of the church edifice. That’s exactly why churches are meant to be beautiful, and not like the inside of a barn or gymnasium. Since we’re not just disembodied spirits but also beings of flesh, our disposition to meet God is greatly influenced by what we see and hear, notably architecture, artwork and music. If your church looks like a gymnasium, perhaps you should talk to your pastor about adding some statues or paintings.
I can’t wait to get to Heaven!